Roland Garros Day 3 Preview: Five Must-See Matches - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Day 3 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Rain is forecast to subside by late morning, so the new roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier should remain open most of the day.

Novak Djokovic will play his first match at a Major since his default at the US Open.

But Tuesday’s most intriguing matchups feature home favorites.  A pair of French veterans will be underdogs against two top 10 men’s seeds, while the women’s French No.1 tries to bounce back after one of the bigger chokes in recent memory.  And a day after two ATP top 10 seeds were upset, two other top 10 men look to rebound after disappointing losses in New York.   By the end of the day, the first round of singles play should be complete in Paris.

Denis Shapovalov (9) vs. Gilles Simon

The 21-year-old Canadian has taken his career to the next level over the past year.  It started with his title win last October in Stockholm, then reaching the final of his first Masters 1,000 event in this city.  A few weeks ago, Denis achieved his first Major quarterfinal in New York.  He immediately backed that up with a semifinal run in Rome, where he went down in defeat to Diego Schwartzman in one of the best matches of this abbreviated season.  Simon is nearly 15 years older than Denis, with his best tennis clearly behind him.  Gilles has lost more matches than he’s won over the last two seasons.  However, the lack of pace in his ball, paired with his variety, can still be effective.  That was evident last summer at Queens Club, where he upset Kevin Anderson and Daniil Medvedev on his way to the final.  Their only previous meeting was last year in this same city, at the Paris Indoors, but they only played four games before Simon retired.  The speed and harder ball striking of Shapovalov make him the favorite to advance.

Roberto Bautista Agut (10) vs. Richard Gasquet

Like his fellow countryman Simon, Gasquet displayed last summer that he’s still capable of some great play.  Gasquet reached a Masters 1,000 semifinal last August in Cincinnati, which included a three-set win over Bautista Agut in the quarters.  But the Spaniard avenged that loss at this year’s event, on his way to the final.  Roberto is 6-2 against Richard, though they’ve never met on clay.  After going 4-7 in his first seven appearances at his country’s Major, Gasquet has fared a bit better of late, even reaching the quarters four years ago.  And he hasn’t lost a first round match at Roland Garros since a decade ago.  But in slow conditions against a player who excels at collecting errors from his opponents, that may change today.

Kristina Mladenovic vs. Laura Siegemund

It’s been a rough few weeks for Mladenovic.  Earlier this month at the US Open, she was up 6-1, 5-1 over Varvara Gracheva, and even reached match point.  But she would eventually lose the second set in a tiebreak, and went down 6-0 in the third.  That same week, she was forced to withdraw from the doubles event, where she was the top seed alongside Timea Babos, due to contact with Benoit Paire, who had tested positive for COVID-19.  This will be her first match since leaving quarantine in the New York bubble, facing the pressure of being the top-ranked Frenchwoman in Paris.  And she faces a player who is accomplished on clay.  All three WTA finals Siegemund has played in her career have been on this surface.  Like Mladenovic, Siegemund has found more success of late in doubles.  In Kiki’s absence, Laura went on to win this year’s US Open women’s doubles title alongside Vera Zvonareva.  Siegemund was the star of that championship match, dominating at the net.  While Mladenovic is the more accomplished singles player, and reached a quarterfinal here three years ago, Siegemund has won two of their three meetings.  All three matches have been close, with two contested on clay.  Kiki claimed their most recent encounter, last May in the qualifying rounds of Madrid.  Their polar opposite experiences at the US Open could prove to be the difference today.  Mladenovic may struggle to shrug off her New York frustration, while Siegemund should be inspired by her doubles glory.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Jaume Munar

Tsitsipas is another player who has some heartbreak to recover from.  At this event a year ago, he was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in a five-set, five-hour epic.  Obviously gutted by the loss, he would go on to lose in the first round of the next two Majors.  At the US Open a few weeks ago, Stefanos was up two-sets-to-one and 5-1 in the fourth over Borna Coric, before failing to convert six match points and losing in a fifth set tiebreak.  And just two days ago in the final of Hamburg, he served for the championship at 5-3 in the third, but dropped the next four games and the title to Andrey Rublev.  That’s scar tissue on top of scar tissue.  And while his opponent today is ranked outside the top 100, Munar can play on the clay.  He earned 30 match wins on this surface at all levels last season.  And Jaume was a finalist in the junior event here six years ago, losing to Rublev.  This is a tricky opening round for a man who cannot be fresh physically or emotionally, but I expect Tsitsipas to fight his way through and advance.  His talent and recuperative abilities have gotten him through challenging obstacles before.

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Vasek Pospisil

Both of these players are coming off fourth round runs at the US Open.  For Pospisil, it was a career highlight.  The 30-year-old Canadian hadn’t advanced beyond the second round of a Major in over five years, when he was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.  His victories over Milos Raonic and Roberto Bautista Agut were most impressive.  For Berrettini, it was a disappointment.  A semifinalist in 2019, he was defeated by the same man he had beaten in the fourth round a year prior: the aforementioned Andrey Rublev.  Despite Pospisil’s recent success, Berrettini is a strong favorite in their first career meeting.  Matteo’s power is a force on all surfaces, while Vasek is 0-6 lifetime at the French Open. 

Other Notable Matches on Day 3:

2016 champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Mikael Ymer, a 22-year-old from Sweden who won 39 matches and four titles on the Challenger circuit last year.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Liudmila Samsonova, a 21-year-old Russian looking for her first win at a Slam.  How will Kenin respond after her 6-0, 6-0 thumping in Rome at the hands of Victoria Azarenka?

2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko vs. Madison Brengle.  Ostapenko leads their head-to-head 2-1, though she’s 0-3 in Paris outside of her 2017 title run.

2017 semifinalist Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Mayar Sherif (Q), a 24-year-old from Egypt making her Major debut.  The winner will play either Ostapenko or Brengle.

2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens (29) vs. Vitalia Diatchenko, a 30-year-old Russian who is 4-13 in her career at Majors.

Tuesday’s full schedule is here.

Grand Slam

Australian Open Considering Switching Women’s Final To Sunday In Future

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The Australian Open could become the first Grand Slam to break away from the tradition of women playing their singles final first. 

According to a report from the Australian Associated Press, tournament chief Craig Tiley is open to making such a move which wouldn’t require any approval from either the WTA or ATP. However, they would likely need to consult with players first and no changes are set to be made in 2025. 

The reasoning for making such a change is due to the women’s final usually being shorter than the men’s best with it being a best-of-three set match. Compared to the men who play the best-of-five. Their thinking is that due to the length of men’s matches increasing in recent years, staging it on a Saturday would enable more people to watch the entire match compred to a Sunday when many are consious about staying up late due to the working week starting on Monday. 

This year’s Australian Open saw Jannik Sinner bounce back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a epic encounter that lasted three hours and 46 minuites. Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka required an hour and 17 mnuites to beat China’s Qinwen Zheng and capture the title. 

Should such a switch take place, it is estimated that the Sunday finale would end at around 10:30pm local time instead of after midnight, which would make it more appealing to fans. Furthermore, it could throw the women’s final more into the spotlight. 

However, there will be obstacles that need to be addressed. The most significant for the Australian Open will be trying to ensure that their 48-hour recovery period between best-of-five-set men’s matches will still be followed. 

This year was the first time in history that the Melbourne major took place over 15 days with play starting on a Sunday. Organisers claimed that the move was done in order to prevent the number of late-night finishes. However, it has little effect on any matches that took place after the first round. 

It is throught that now the event is held over 15 days, it gives more room for organisers to schedule the men’s final for a Saturday. The proposal was discussed during this year’s Australian Open’s official debrief. 

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Grand Slam

It Wasn’t The Same Old Story On Sunday Down Under

Jannik Sinner won his first Grand Slam title on Sunday.

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(@janniksin - Twitter)

It’s been the same old story at the Australian Open for a long time in the men’s game.

One of the greats almost always would take the top prize Down Under. Either Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer or even Stan Wawrinka always prevailed since 2006 at Melbourne.

And then came Jannik Sinner in 2024.

None of the other superstars were still around for Sunday’s final.

A DIFFERENT AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Yes, this time it was a different Australian Open.

But actually Sinner may have written his own story when he upended Djokovic in the semifinals. Without that experience, the slender Italian may not have been able to handle the pressure that Daniil Medvedev sent his way in the final.

Sinner was ready for the finish line after shocking Djokovic in the semifinals. It just took time to get there.

Sinner played within himself most of the last three sets of the final. A first-time Grand Slam finalist, Sinner played as if he belonged there in those three sets.

But, oh, those first two sets when Medvedev dominated play with his backhand from the middle of the court. Backhands usually are reserved for the backhand side of the court, but not with the tall Russian on the court.

SINNER DIDN’T PLAY HIS GAME AT FIRST

In a similar manner as women’s champion Aryna Sabalenka, Sinner followed up a big semifinal win with his own Australian Open title. Only, Sinner had to fight for five sets to accomplish his dream Down Under with a 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Medvedev.

Sinner appeared to play far differently from his victory over Djokovic when he controlled the court with his aggressive play and power.

This time, Sinner started things conservatively with few aggressive winners, repeatedly leaving the corners wide open for Medvedev’s crafty, but hard hit strokes. Medvedev made Sinner  pay a price with a style of play that was just the opposite.

Medvedev played close to the baseline and aggressively hopped on balls with his backhand in whip-lash fashion. He hardly had to move as he conserved energy.

THE STRATEGY ALMOST WORKED TO PERFECTION

Medvedev’s strategy worked like a charm until Sinner served the ninth game of the third set as Medvedev once needed only six points for a possible Grand Slam title. Sinner managed to overcome a deuce score to win that game.

Medvedev fell behind 30-0 serving the 10th game of the set and then Sinner got his first set point. Sinner made it stand up and it was a new game after that.

Sinner didn’t appear to be ready for Medvedev’s game the first two sets, but the Italian then came alive. He became prepared for Medvedev, even after losing the first two sets.

Of course, Sabalenka got her boost from a surprising, but solid win over talented Coco Graff in the women’s semifinals. Sabalenka then was never really challenged by Qinwen Zheng in the final.

Sinner’s final was much different.  He was somewhat lucky to escape with  a win.

Medvedev almost wrapped up the title in the ninth game, but it didn’t happen. As a result, Sinner may have started his own success story in Grand Slam finals.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Daniil Medvedev Plays Jannik Sinner for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Daniil Medvedev during Friday’s semifinals (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The men’s singles and women’s doubles championship matches are on Sunday in Melbourne.

Across the last 10 hard court Majors, Daniil Medvedev has now advanced to six championship matches, half of which have come in Melbourne.  In those finals, Medvedev is a meek 1-4.  However, this is the first time Medvedev is looking across the net at a man not named Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, the two winningest male singles players of all-time at Grand Slam events.

And Medvedev can thank Jannik Sinner for that, who for the third time in their last four meetings, defeated Djokovic in Friday’s semifinals to reach his first Major final.  Since adding Darren Cahill to his team 18 months ago, one of tennis’s best coaches of all-time, Sinner’s game has continually and significantly improved, most evident in his three victories over Djokovic since November.  On Sunday, the most dominant male player of this fortnight looks to break more new ground in his young career.

Earlier on Sunday, in the women’s doubles championship match, it’s Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko (11) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2).  This is a first Major final for Kichenok, and a first in doubles for Ostapenko.  Su-Wei has won seven Majors in doubles, including her first mixed title earlier this week, and is 7-1 at this stage of Majors.  Mertens has won three Majors in women’s doubles, including Wimbledon in 2021 alongside Su-Wei.


Jannik Sinner (4) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Not Before 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Through six rounds, Sinner has dropped just one of 19 sets, which came against Djokovic in the semis.  But even that match was a rather comfortable win for the Italian, who lost only six games in the three sets he claimed.  Jannik has not just been the best ATP player this fortnight: he’s been the best ATP player since the last Major, with a record of 26-2.  The 22-year-old is 10-4 in ATP finals, with this of course being by far the biggest of his career to date.

Medvedev endured a much more complicated path to this final, completing 25 out of a possible 30 sets, which included three five-setters.  Two of those came in the last two rounds, against Hubert Hurkacz and Sascha Zverev.  Daniil has spent six more hours on court than Jannik, and has played for over 11 hours during the second week alone.  He is 20-16 in ATP Finals, with all 20 titles coming at different events.  But Medvedev can be rather streaky in finals: after losing five in a row, he won seven of eight, yet has now lost his last three.

And those last two losses came at the hands of Sinner, who beat him in both Beijing and Vienna.  Jannik also defeated Daniil in the semifinals of the ATP Finals in November, though all three of those recent matches were tight.  Prior to that, Medvedev had dominated their head-to-head 6-0, which includes two finals earlier in 2023.  All ten of their meetings have taken place on hard courts, and this is their first at a Major.

Based on their recent history, as well as their individual form this fortnight, I favor Sinner to win his first Major on Sunday.  While he’ll surely be nervous in the biggest match of his life, and could experience an emotional letdown coming off ending Novak’s undefeated record of 20-0 in Australian Open semis and finals, Jannik will be the much fresher player on this day.  Plus, he will feel confident after those three recent wins over Daniil, who has a lot of scar tissue to overcome in Major finals.  And after facing Medvedev so much within the past year, Sinner is well-versed on how to take advantage of Daniil’s deep return position.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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